Just Once - Page 34

No! Art snapped as forcefully as he could.

Yes! his daughter screamed so loudly in his head that it felt like Art's skull was going to burst.

While this mental exchange took far less than even milliseconds, time was still of the essence if Art was going to stop the multiple disasters in progress. Figuratively gritting his teeth, Art wracked his brains for a way out of this mess.

Then Art remembered the tone his mother used to use on him when he had tried her patience for the last time for one day. I . . . said . . . NO! he snarled.

But-- his daughter started to protest.

Are you talking back to me, young lady? Art asked like the snapping of a whip. Is that what you're doing?

No, she answered in a much smaller mental voice.

Because one more outburst like that, and it's time out for you! Got it?

Yes . . .

Now came the tricky part. Good, Art told his daughter in a tone both satisfied and conciliatory. Because Daddy needs you to be a big girl right now and help him with some things, and if you do, after we're done, Daddy will let you have ice cream . . . with candy.

With candy! his daughter thought in wonder. I'll help! I'm a big girl, I can help! I can, I can!

That's my girl.


To put it mildly, Caleb was not having a good day, even worse than the day he'd gotten his nose broken by a man in a dress.

As had happened then too, he felt a vague sense of offense that fiction had lied to him by leading him to believe that he would automatically be good in a fight just because he was a “good guy.” Okay, maybe not automatically good, but in fiction there always seemed to be some moment when the hero, right at the brink of defeat, manages to tap into . . . something which allows him to triumph against all the odds. That moment never came for Caleb when he had an enraged three-hundred pound drag queen on top of him, and it seemed even less likely to happen now as he struggled under a small mountain of security, a couple of whom were built like small mountains themselves.

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